Table of Contents
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As European society has grown wealthier, it is generating more and more waste. It is clear that treating and disposing of all this material – without harming the environment – becomes one of the main environmental problems.
Waste prevention is closely linked with improving manufacturing methods and better use of resources, influencing consumers to demand greener products and less packaging.
The EU waste policy as well as the related legal requirements and targets are based on a concept of the waste hierarchy: waste generation should be prevented or reduced, and that which is generated should be recovered by means of re-use, recycling and other recovery operations, thus reducing disposal/landfilling operations.
The EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC establishes a legal framework for the treatment of waste within EU. It aims at protecting the environment and human health through the prevention of the harmful effects of waste generation and waste management.
The EU Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste addresses addresses waste prevention as one of the priority issues. According to the Strategy, although waste prevention has been the paramount objective of both national and EU waste management policies for many years, limited progress has been made in transforming this objective into practical action. Neither the Community nor the national targets set in the past have been satisfactorily met. As a result, the Strategy concludes that prevention can only be achieved by influencing practical decisions taken at various stages of the life cycle: how a product is designed, manufactured, made available to the consumer and finally used.
This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.
Legal basis for the Commission to act
The European Commission's site on waste policy: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/index.htm
The European Commission's site on Integrated Product Policy: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ipp/
The European Commission's site on the 'Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste': http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/strategy.htm
European Environment Agency, waste and material resources: http://www.eea.europa.eu/